Will events ever go back to offline?
TED, Google I/O, IBM Think, and Milan’s Salone di Mobile are just some of the significant annual gatherings scheduled for this time. Under normal circumstances, many of us would be polishing pitches, confirming travel logistics, and packing business cards for professional meetings.
For example, enterprise software conferences such as VMWare or Salesforce — are big business in the event industry. It’s driving vast networking between enterprises and driving millions of dollars in sales between attendees during events. According to a recent case study by The Bridge Group, 36% of sales pipeline by Account Executives in SaaS companies are from marketing, another 64% from their outbound efforts. Business conferences are large such channels of prospecting potential customers. Despite the cancellations of the events, life still goes on, and businesses need to sell their products & services.
According to our research, around 50–70% of conferences in the US have been canceled. Meanwhile, the remaining 30% are considering solutions to switch to online.
What tools do they use?
Most business conferences earn money through sponsorships and various premiums. They attract hundreds to thousands of attendees for an average of two to three days, sometimes ranging up to five days.
We’ve researched dozens of professional conference organizers across the USA and Europe. And here’s what we found:
In the online conferencing world that has emerged in the last two months (it’s the end of May 2020 at the time of writing this article), conference organizers struggle to solve the following issues:
There are two main reasons to attend a conference that both attendees and event organizers shared with us:
Zoom, Whereby, or Discord video networking at massive online events appeared to be not the best solution to solve marketing issues (according to our customer survey). However, networking is the main reason to attend the event for people — then how to solve it better?
To meet updated the demands of a new kind of online conference experience, several new services have been created or upgraded from offline solutions in the past couple of months:
SpatialChat — a new product by FunCorp founders (creators of popular UGC services like iFunny, ABPV, and WHLSM) to solve casual networking & afterparty of any online event. The mechanics of the service allows us to simulate the real-life experience of indifferent people interactions during informal cocktail parties: people appear as circles with their cameras turn on, and the closer one gets to another person — the better they hear each other. This way allows people to quickly switch context going between different people groups discussing different things — without having to find another Zoom meeting room, reopening browser tab, and more. They also allow hosting events of any size — event for 10,000 concurrent attendees online without audio/video quality issues
SpatialChat Enterprise version — for online conferences, corporate all-hands meetings and cocktail parties of any size
Pine — an online conference platform that can host attendees, keynote streams, random networking, conference schedule, online booths, and more. For example, casual networking allows people to meet each other in a random Chatroulette-style fashion and matching people based on their tags (attendees can show their interests such as Business Development, Marketing, Legal, Software Development, PR, etc.). This is more fun, more accessible, and more efficient than real-life experience — where one has to take courage to approach a person, identify who they are, where they’re from, and how they can benefit each other. In the online event, one can easily find and talk only to people of their particular business interest — from the comfort of their home.
Pine is an online event infrastructure to hold events, stream keynotes, networking and much more
Pine’s Random Networking feature for conference attendees
These are examples of new and quickly growing services. However, there are more, including Hopin, vFairs, Meet2Match, Brella & others. They hold hundreds if not thousands of people-hours of audience attention, which is a more efficient brand awareness instrument for online conference sponsors than a printed offline stand at a fair while giving a lot of networking value to attendees. And thanks to such tools — event organizers can justify conference ticket costs and sponsorship costs for measurable attention gained during an event.
We believe that in a post-COVID19 world majority of events will be either online-only and hybrid (offline + online). There will not be many offline-only events because:
Some even say, that offline-only events for less than 500 attendees will transition to online-only, because of a much more convenient & efficient networking instead of going through offline conference, reading through people badges, etc.
An online event is a convenient and measurable environment to get people engaged from the comfort of their homes.
Welcome to the post-pandemic future for conferences!